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Leadership: Treat Your Customers Well

Just before Christmas, my Canon mini-dv camcorder broke. Not great timing, obviously, but what could I do but try to get it fixed? I knew I wouldn’t have it on the holiday itself and I was under no illusions that I would be able to have it repaired (if it was even fixable) during the 10-day period the family was relaxing and having fun together.

Just before Christmas, my Canon mini-dv camcorder broke. Not great timing, obviously, but what could I do but try to get it fixed? I knew I wouldn’t have it on the holiday itself and I was under no illusions that I would be able to have it repaired (if it was even fixable) during the 10-day period the family was relaxing and having fun together.

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I needn’t have worried. I quickly found Canon online and was able to navigate easily on their superb support pages. At one point, I needed to call them. They were busy but instead of making me hold, the recording asked if I wanted someone to call me back as soon as the next available representative was free. I said yes and 10 minutes later, the phone rang.

The agent was very helpful, gave me my options very clearly and told me how and where to send the broken camcorder. I received a repair number, packed up the camera and overnighted it to the repair center.

The day after Christmas, I received an email from Canon describing the problem and providing an estimate. Online, I checked the appropriate boxes and OK’d the repair. 3 days later, the camera was back in my hands. Total time from first call to repaired camera: 1 week. We still had a few days left of family fun, so Christmas 2008 was not a total video loss.

I couldn’t help but contrast my Canon experience with some recent, unsatisfactory customer service experiences from two other behemoths, American Express and AT&T. The ease and pleasure of being serviced by Canon and their integrated approach to communication where it felt as if they thought of everything, was breathtaking in comparison. Because of my experience, I will buy Canon again. It makes sense to me because since electronics break down or get damaged easily, I want to be able to repair them just as easily. As I sigh with pleasure over Canon, I am plotting my escape from the other companies.

When it comes to customer service, why don’t businesses get it? It’s not difficult to make the business case for it: treat customers well and make communication easy and they become repeat customers, recommend them to friends and family, write about it in Fast Company…

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Ruth Sherman • Ruth Sherman Associates LLC • High Stakes Communications • Greenwich, CT • www.ruthsherman.com

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About the author

Ruth Sherman, M.A., is a strategic communications consultant focusing on preparing business leaders, politicians, celebrities, and small business entrepreneurs to leverage critical public communications including keynote speeches, webcasts, investor presentations, road shows, awards presentations, political campaigns and media contact. Her clients hail from the A-list of international business including General Electric, JP Morgan (NY, London, Frankfurt), Timex Group, Deloitte and Dubai World

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